INCUBRA FAQ

 

 

 

 

 

This FAQ was prepared by Cynthia Verspaget and Adam Fiannaca, but is in first person where needed as recounted by Cynthia.

 

 

WHAT IS INCUBRA?  

Incubra is a wearable biological incubator and it’s a collaboration between Adam Fiannaca and Cynthia Verspaget, its also supported by ArtsWA, and sponsored by Marquis De Sade.

It is in the form of a corset where by a test tube of cells can be sustained for a short period of time through body heat generated in the cleavage.

It also has cleavage enhancers which can adjusted to create more surface area around the test tube creating more heat.  It has a temperature sensor and it also recites bio-poetry to create an ‘interesting’ environment for the cells, the viewer and the wearer.

 

HOW DID THE PROJECT COME ABOUT?

There are two coinciding stories behind the birth of this project, Adams and mine, as well as a kind of general understanding of science and biology which underpins these stories.

Firstly, biology in particular and science in general, is about “revealing truths” (this is not to say we agree with this tenet of science) science attempts to reveal through the process of defining things and in order to define, one requires clear boundary surrounded categories – these inevitably end up taking form as binary distinctions.  The humanities critiques these because we and the things around us never occupy only one category – we occupy many simultaneously which challenges the idea of binary distinctions and therefore the main tenet of scientific discovery of “truth”. The idea that truths are revealed is seriously questioned by all this because we never see anything from a pure or innocent location – science tries to protect its processes so it can continue the ruse of ‘revelation of truth’ and there are spaces “the laboratory” which are kept “sacred” and languages which are kept separated in order to support scientific process. (even though some forward thinking labs are opening up their spaces to “others”)

Keeping this in mind, both Adam and myself had experiences of “the lab” that prompted a discussion of the project.

Adam, after one of his artistic rocketry works had resulted in a ‘mis-hap’ which created some chaos in the news media, he was required to qualify his work to the relevant government body. During this discussion, he was asked by our friendly government man, if he had a “home lab” – Adam asked what constituted a “home lab”, he was told a home laboratory was : 

-         a space where repeatable experiments take place

-         in a controlled environment with specialized equipment for carrying out those experiments

to which Adam replied “ is that not a kitchen?”

My (Cynthia) own story was a result of an encounter with a biological laboratory during an artistic residency in 2003-2004 where I was confronted with the tools of science – both the living ones (cells) and the technological ones (the sterile hood and the incubator)

The incubator in particular seemed disconnected and removed from what it ultimately was made to mimic – the human body (which is the ultimate incubator) the INSIDE of the human body is sterile, warm and provides nutrients for cell growth.

A biotech incubator seemed removed from those connections to the body – the outside of the body (which when mixing the outside and inside of the body we get a disruption to ‘normality’ which we think is important) became a topic for discussion and we thought that the outer body may be an interesting site for a laboratory – a kind of re-domestication the incubator and the biological body.

 

WHAT CELLS ARE IN THE TEST TUBE ?

 WHY FAT CELLS?

The test tube contains fat cells.  It was firstly out of an opportunity where the cells were ‘gifted’ from artists Nina Sellars and Stelarc after their project Blender where they had their adipose tissue liposucked which they combined and mixed in a giant blender. Prior to fixing and sterilizing the cells they set some aside as a gift for this project.

Fat cells are interesting as they hold a lot of power in our culture.

Fat is spoken of as an excess and as a problem, its discussed as a product or focus in cosmetic surgery in that it can be redistributed or removed, it grows in the body in a way in which the outer body is modified by its presence – and it most recently has been ‘asked’ to be reconsidered as a ‘serious’ source for stem cells – we like playing with biotech advances that throw cultural prescriptions into chaos like that – imagine how larger people will be seen if fat becomes our major resource for stem cell therapy??

 

HOW ARE REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGIES INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT?

The female body I guess can not really be discussed these days in bio-art without implicating reproduction and reproductive technologies. Womens bodies are so encoded through culture, biology and physiology, and thus, “breeding” is a tethered subject.

And although reproductive technologies was more an underlying issue and not intended to be a main focus, the presence of incubra on the body of a women leads us to a discussion on the implication of incubation and the female body- this is why it was included in initial statements about it.  Where does the possibility of external incubation (as bodily connected -IncuBra, or disembodied - Bio-Incubator)  place those who can and can not reproduce? Breeders are somewhat privileged in our culture and we are both quite interested in the idea of “barren” women as perceived as lacking and this implicates a discussion on gender and reproduction.

Its a subject we are both equally interested in as both men and women are implicated in respect to who plays what role when biotechnology advances in reproductive technologies?   We are actually beginning to plan a similar project implicating the male body.